Wasteless Wednesday

29 Sep

Waste not, want not.

At the height of the national campaign and elections season this year, one of the many concerns that seemed to have simply disappeared post-election was the fate of the millions of banners, tarpaulins, and plastic posters that vying political candidates flooded the whole country with. During the three-month campaign period directly preceding the May 2010 National Elections, this was a sight one would normally see: huge tarpaulins blotting the sun and sky, plastic banners hitched dangerously to electric wires and cables, and self-promoting posters strung from one end of the street to the other.

With our unnatural obsession for plastic and its ilk (frugal Filipinos love the idea of a thing that lasts forever), we have veered away from traditional recycled paper and cardboard posters and moved to more durable and more weather-resistant materials. This thing that lasts forever does indeed last forever, making it a problem of significant magnitude. Now, add to this unusually large volume the seasonal, thematic advertising signs of business companies and you have a potential for another Smokey Mountain of nonbiodegradeable, plastic garbage.

Miraculously, after the elections, many of these simply disappeared. Their fate remains unknown. I suppose many of them were simply thrown in the trash, awaiting their day of resurrection when another Typhoon Ondoy would dredge them up from the netherworld of refuse and garbage that block our sewers and waterways. But is there another way to salvage these plastic tarpaulins and posters?

There have been initiatives to make them into eco- bags and shopping totes, though I have yet to see a tote bearing politicians’ images (perhaps these will not sell so well, heehee). Tarpaulins can be sewn together to make tents or emergency shelters for calamities, or even canopies and marquees to cover just about anything- from people to cars to gardens. They can be made into water-resistant aprons kids can use for painting, high school students can use in their biology laboratory, or even adults in their kitchens. The list is only as long as one’s ingenuity.

I was reminded of all these other uses when my husband came home from a recent MAP (Management Association of the Philippines) conference bearing a  flexible, white plastic envelope. I usually go through his conference materials, sorting them out according to importance, recycling paper and cardboard as necessary, filing cards, and cleaning out pens and bits and pieces of promotional items. But of all the things he brought bome that day, I fell in love with the envelope. 

It’s nothing extraordinary, just a simple envelope, really. This is what it looks like on the outside:

and on the inside:

But I fell in love with the idea of this envelope

and how corporate social responsibility, for all the big words corporations like to use to describe this advocacy, simply boils down to such a simple idea of people, planet, and profit. What is good for the environment is good for man and good for business. It doesn’t get any simpler than that.

Way to go, MAP, ECHOstore and Globe! Here’s to more Wasteless Wednesdays!



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